What Are You Doing to Prepare for Winter?

REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton ( \
A tractor stands covered in snow during a snowstorm in Huntington, New York, U.S., March 13, 2018.
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Winter is coming soon, and if anyone is denying reality, Montana is a chilling reminder. Are you making the necessary preparations now?

Dairy farmers looking to winterize their operation should consider water heaters, teat dips and windbreaks, says Christina Petersson-Wolfe, a Virginia Tech Extension dairy scientist, in the Oct. 2019 edition of the Dairy Pipeline.

“Water that is not hot enough and/or insufficient water volume will result in improperly cleaned milking equipment, which may result in abnormally high bacterial counts in milk, including PI counts,” Petersson-Wolfe warns.

To determine if parlor water is hot enough, ensure dump water in the wash cycle is at least 120 degrees Fahrenheit.

“With winter also comes the age-old question, ‘Should I continue post-dipping teats during the cold months?’”

When temperatures with wind chill drop to -25 degrees Fahrenheit, be careful of frostbite on teats. 

After the post-dip has been on the teats 30 seconds, the teats can be blotted dry in cold weather. Additionally, there are a variety of winter teat disinfectants. Even if no post-dip is used, milk residue on teats is enough moisture for frostbite risk.

“It is imperative to provide ample dry bedding for the cows to lie on during these harsh conditions,” Petersson-Wolfe adds. “Furthermore, a windbreak would significantly reduce the risk for frostbite.”

While many consider winter is the best time or milk quality, Petersson-Wolfe says precautions are still necessary.

“In fact, based on the recent [Southeast Quality Milk Initiative] project, the lowest bulk tank SCC values are seen in March and April. Therefore, considerations and precautions are warranted in the winter.”

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